Want to boost your child's reading and writing skills? Try audiobooks

08 July 2020 - 09:28 By AFP Relaxnews
A majority of children and teenagers say that listening to audiobooks has increased their interest in reading.
A majority of children and teenagers say that listening to audiobooks has increased their interest in reading.
Image: Imgorthand /iStock via AFP Relaxnews

As parents have been moving en masse to homeschooling in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, millions of them are turning to activity books, flash cards and audiobooks to educate their restless children.

While some parents might struggle to find which educational material works best for their offspring, a new report by the UK's National Literacy Trust suggests that audiobooks have the potential to be a key resource for children's literacy and wellbeing.

The study, conducted with 58,346 children and teenagers whose ages range between 9 and 18, shows that 52.9% of them said that listening to audiobooks has increased their interest in reading.

Similarly, two in five of the children and teenagers surveyed (42.6%) confirmed that audiobooks have made them more interested in writing.

The report also points out that 7 in 10 children and young people claimed that listening to audiobooks makes it easier to understand the content of a book.

"I prefer listening because I can concentrate more on what it is saying but when it is reading I get distracted sometimes," one of them said of the benefits of listening to audiobooks.

The study also reveals that audiobooks allow children and young people to access the benefits of books, regardless of their own reading and writing skills. Among them are perks like developing their vocabulary, stimulating their imagination and learning how to express themselves.

Even more surprisingly, researchers of the National Literacy Trust suggest that audiobooks encourage boys to have a more positive attitude towards reading.

While the OECD consistently finds that girls perform significantly better than boys in reading, a majority of surveyed boys (51.1%) claimed that listening to audiobooks has increased their interest in reading books.

"[Boys] think they are getting away with something by listening instead of reading. We don't have to tell them that they are learning vocabulary, story structure, sentence composition and a dozen other literacy skills," American children's author Jon Scieszka noted about boys' interest in audiobooks.

In addition to boosting children's literacy, the National Literacy Trust reveals that nearly 1 in 3 of surveyed children and young people (31.8%) expressed that listening to audiobooks made them feel better during lockdown.

"It is incredibly encouraging to see that so many children have been actively choosing to spend their extra free time in lockdown listening to stories. It shows the value of stories to children's lives and the comfort and entertainment they can offer — particularly in times of uncertainty," Jonathan Douglas, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust, noted in a statement.